This post continues on from yesterday’s post on Forgiveness – Forgiveness is an Action.
Forgiveness isn’t easy and anyone who says otherwise is surely kidding themselves – it might get easier with time and practice but it is a journey of practiced divinity.
How do we know when it’s the right time to forgive? Is there a best time or should we forgive someone regardless?How do we know when we are truly ready to forgive? Click To Tweet
This might be a bit controversial because when we read about forgiveness it almost looks like it’s instantaneous – it seems to me that there’s almost always a process that surrounds it.
As such, I’m convinced that if we force ourselves to release the pain before we have had time to own it, it only causes further harm, BUT there is a time when we do have to let the pain go and it may be sooner than we would wish or realise.
To me that question is part of a bigger issue
Knowing HOW to forgive
Forgiveness is an action – we got that – but if we go a bit deeper, forgiveness is about letting something (it) go.
Q. Have you ever wondered why forgiveness is so difficult especially at the beginning of learning how to forgive?
My theory is it’s because we don’t truly believe that the most vulnerable part of ourselves will be protected or vindicated to our satisfaction so we hold on tight to the it.
If we truly believed, we would be willing to let our hurts and pain go. We hold on because we feel we’ll do a better job than God.
Forgiveness is an act of applied faith. We forgive because we believe. It is a testing and a trying of the condition of our heart towards God first and therefore cannot be feigned.Forgiveness is an act of applied faith. We forgive because we believe. Click To Tweet
In order to get to that place where forgiveness is more than religiosity or lip service at least three things need to take place:
- You’re not in denial – how can you let go of something you refuse to admit to yourself. If someone has hurt you, accept it – don’t try to push it down, deny it or reject it – it won’t take the pain away.
- Nurture faith – we can continue to hold on to pain way past its BB date because we don’t have the necessary belief that God has got our back. Our trust in God’s goodness, love and justice will hugely determine our ability to let go for true. I think we all need growth in this area especially with deep seated wounds and trauma.
- Know how to Release – we often don’t think about the logistics of forgiveness – it’s often just theory and principles BUT I know I have found that having examples of how other people have successfully applied forgiveness has helped me tremendously.
Knowing how to Forgive also helps you know when to Forgive
There is something powerful about knowing how to do something and knowing what to do in a particular situation, it gives you a kind of strength and security you wouldn’t otherwise have. I found this when dealing with difficult relationships. Truth be told I had no idea how to deal with them but God gave me an idea – role models. He told me to observe how others around me handled difficult relationships and imitate their best practice. It worked.
Even if we do really want to forgive we might get lost in the logistics of it all, so having examples of forgiveness as applied faith actions really helped me. As such I want to share with you an experience from my life in the hope that it will help you next time you might be unsure about your next steps.
A couple of years back I had an incident with a relative (why does it always have to be someone close to us – huh?). This person had some temper/anger problems and therefore saying yes all the time was often the best option. At that time, YHWH had been teaching me about Biblical assertiveness and I had reached the stage in my training where I was beginning to apply principles to real-life situations not because I necessary wanted to make a scene but because my soul cried to have herself valued and protected.
So, there was a showdown and I stood my ground and it was actually one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. It had been brewing for the whole day, I had been treading on eggshells, continuously apologising for mistakes I had never made, being told that I was stupid, illogical and the like. The people I had counted on to protect me didn’t or should I say now looking back, they couldn’t – they didn’t know how to. So as I stood there under the barrage of piercing words and glares, I felt the presence of YHWH come over me to enable me to stand, I was wearing the armour of God.
I stood my ground. I didn’t say much apart from “no” yet it was enough coming from someone who had learnt from a young age that no was a bad word. But I was also in such pain.
I must have carried that pain for months, vowing to block that person out of my life for good and resentful towards the people who I felt had stood around and allowed that to happen to me. And then God spoke to me.
Not necessarily outright “Achama you must forgive them” but through signs. I received 3 signs that I should forgive them.
Sign 1: an impressing on my heart to let the experience go.
Sign 2: going to sleep and dreaming of this person (happens very rarely).
Sign 3: waking up and seeing their number stored as a screensaver on my phone (didn’t even know my phone could do that – weird right?)
I began to get the picture. I needed to forgive even though I felt I wasn’t ready to.
Realising that forgiveness wasn’t about the way I felt but what I did, I knew I had to do something – make the first move to reconcile even though this said person totally believed their actions were justified and as such had not apologised.
I knew I needed to call them.
God revealed this action to me on a day when I was totally alone in the house and I was petrified. I didn’t believe I was strong enough to handle this call. What if they got angry? What if they said even more to hurt me? What if? What if?
I delayed as long as possible until the impressing on my heart was almost unbearable. I cried, I prayed, I said “YHWH I can’t do this alone! I need you Abba, I need you Yeshua (Jesus), I need you Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to surround me, to hold my hand. PROMISE ME you will be here with me and you won’t leave me and then only then will I make this call.” I felt the presence of God surround me – I wasn’t totally calm but I was OK enough to make that call.
It wasn’t an easy call, by the time I had got off the phone I was shaky with nerves BUT I had done it. I had released the pain I was carrying and I was ready to move forwards.
I realised that my relationship with said person could never be the same at least not until they had realised the error of the ways for true, but I had done my bit and discovered that God really did have my back. It was His show from now on.